Chapter 1: Homeless

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Every inch of my body ached

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Every inch of my body ached. The dull twinge of pain surged through me, starting from the centre of my chest then pushing outwards like a wave. It travelled with my pulse until it reached the tips of my fingers and toes, then it'd repeat. And every time I felt like I was drowning, being pulled under the waves as they washed over me again, and again, and again.

He stared out at me from the screen of my phone, that familiar smile plastered across his stupid face, his name—Rick—emblazoned above. He was trying to call me again, but I wasn't going to answer. There was no way I could, even if I wanted to... I froze whenever I saw his face. It physically hurt to look at him, even if it was just a picture.

My rational half reminded me that I was being melodramatic, and, to be honest, it was right... but love was not a rational thing. My heart was a completely separate entity from my head. Even though my rational self told me to get over it, my heart hurt, and there was nothing my head could say to change that.

I dismissed the call, sending it to voicemail. He would probably leave yet another message that I would delete without listening to.

What didn't he get about 'fuck off'? I thought that setting our bed on fire would've sent a very clear message.

It had been a week since I'd last seen him, but it seemed like much longer. It was hard to believe it had been a mere seven days since I caught him in bed—our bed—with another woman.

Retracing those memories made the next wave of pain a little stronger. We had been together since high school, gone to the same college, moved in together... He had been all I knew. But apparently, I wasn't enough for him. He had to go and cheat on me. And to make it all that much worse, it had been completely obvious. I mean, I had noticed when he had started being strangely secretive, but I wasn't suspicious. I had trusted him. Pathetically, I had even entertained the idea that his secret was that he was planning to propose. I only wondered what was taking him so long to do it.

Now I knew.

I stumbled to the nearest lamppost and leaned against it, fighting off the tears threatening to emerge. I needed to collect myself before I moved on. I couldn't show up to an apartment viewing looking like a wreck; I couldn't risk giving the landlord a reason not to rent to me...

Not another reason, at least. I didn't exactly have a glowing reference from my previous landlord after he kicked me out. There had been something in our lease about "intentional destruction of property" and apparently lighting your own bed on fire fell under that clause.

Admittedly, that had been my fault. I should have known better, but in the heat of the moment, I had needed to destroy something, anything... Rick was just lucky it hadn't been his face.

I sucked in a deep breath through my teeth and pushed myself off the lamppost. Pull it together, I told myself. You're nearly there.

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